Shadows Across the Moon is a sci-fi romance serial novel with chapters being released daily. If you missed the previous chapters, you can read them here-
Moderate violence and sex.
All rights reserved as stated in serial chapter 1. Copyright SF English
SHADOWS ACROSS THE MOON by SF English
What seemed like a lifetime was only fifteen minutes. The further they got from land, the less dense the fog. That was great for navigation, but not when they lost their cover.
It was a small boat, but with no one else around, it would be easy to spot. The darkness was a blessing, although Grace hadn’t considered it to be, until now. They used the paddles, quietly slicing through the cold water.
The ship was easy to spot, once you cleared the wall of dense fog. It wasn’t as big as she thought it would be, but, it was sleek, dark, and as sinister as death itself. There were no boats around the ship, nothing that might help them blend in. It would seem that everyone on board was in place. The US Military, a smooth-running killing machine.
Grace looked back to the city, but only the tallest buildings could still be seen. It seemed to her that the fog was a fist, closing around the city, choking it. High rise apartment buildings, billion dollar businesses, vying for one last breath.
The wind was cold. It was always cold. It didn’t matter what time of year, the bay breathed out winter. It would take a half hour to get to the ship. Dane watched the area, watched for soldiers. But Grace knew it wouldn’t matter. If someone saw them, it was all over. The only thing to do now was to move forward…and pray.
As they grew nearer, Dane signaled for her to put the paddle away. He moved, quiet and slow, to sit next to her.
“They aren’t prepared,” he whispered, “They probably did an initial sweep of the area, never thinking anyone would approach the ship now. But there’ll be soldiers on deck. You can count on it.”
Her teeth were chattering from cold. She nodded as he looked down at her. His arms came around to hold her, to warm her. He continued to watch the ship, as she burrowed into his warmth, to steal a moment, to gain strength.
* * * *
The bastards had her! Robert had killed two AIM soldiers before he made it to the land center. He’d kill more before it was over. The thought did nothing to assuage the violence coursing through his veins, but there was satisfaction in it.
It would take some time for them to find the dead AIM soldiers. He’d ripped off their headsets right away. There was no way of knowing how often they checked in, but the stillness of the building told him nothing had been discovered yet.
The large hunting knife dripped blood on his shoes. The sound echoed in his ears like the tinkling of the glasses inside, as someone poured a drink. Grayson gave him information for a reason. Without knowing that reason Robert had to operate from the belief that he was being set up. Every nerve-ending was electrified, his senses acutely heightened.
He had no choice. He had to look for Stephanie where Grayson had told him. Finding where the colonel’s room was had been easy. It was listed in black and white on the diagram they’d downloaded. He circled the side of the building, counting the minutes it would take for the patrol of AIM soldiers guarding the building to come back around. They were arrogant in their confidence, but why wouldn’t they be? They were experienced at this. Killing. Covert operations. Detroit.
Robert moved, silent, steady, deadly. Beneath the window he crouched, listening and learning. Four men, not cyborg. They were eating, drinking and bragging.
“I’ve already claimed half of Mission and Market,” a voice, deep with a southern drawl. “If this doesn’t get me a general’s star I’ll kiss Colonel Travis’ ass.”
Loud laughs, more tinkling glasses. “Besides,” the southern colonel continued, “I was promised a bonus if I brought our lovely guest in alive.” The sound of someone getting out of a chair and walking filled the room.
“Get your slimy, Big Brother hands off me.”
Her voice made it difficult for him to breathe. Everything in him told him to buy a little more time, but he needed to see her. His life depended on seeing her alive. He moved cautiously, rising slowly to the balls of his feet. From the side of the window, he could peer in.
She sat in a plush, winged back chair. Her hands were tied in front of her, laying helplessly in her lap. The man in front of her moved away, laughing to himself. Robert’s heart ached. The right side of her face was swollen. Her lip had bled. What started as an ache turned to deadly calm.
In his mind he replayed it. The sounds of her screams, the desperation he’d felt at losing her. Now there was white, hot hatred. He fought to keep his emotions under control. He knew he couldn’t continue to look at her. As he decided what to do next, he began to crouch down again below the window. But before he cleared it, he saw a reflection. Red. Light. Pain.
* * * *
An increase in activity ahead told Paul he was near the land center. He ducked behind a dumpster and turned the channel on his headset. Before he could bring the mouthpiece into place, he saw several AIM soldiers running toward the land center. He froze.
One of them carried an unconscious Robert to the front of the building. A high ranking AIM soldier gave instructions. Two soldiers went at a fast pace around the building, and two more in the opposite direction. Two stood as sentries at the front door.
Damn him! The mission was in jeopardy. If they had Robert’s headset, he couldn’t chance using it to communicate with the others. Paul scanned the area again. Think!
He watched the soldiers patrol. He timed them. He’d have two minutes to get into the building if he were to follow his next plan. He checked his watch. Dane and Grace would be boarding the ship by now. They needed twenty minutes to find the detonation room. Paul wasn’t sure Robert had twenty minutes to live. Timing is everything.
He would have to wait. And hope.
* * * *
Dane had timed the soldiers patrolling the deck. He waited, putting lifejackets between the small boat and ship to stay quiet. As he watched the soldier disappear, he pulled out the small harpoon gun. The hook on it was large, and he worried that it wouldn’t find a home on the metal ship. He took a shot, but it clanged over the railing, falling uselessly to the floor of the ship.
Dane pulled in a long breath, let it out slowly. He had enough time to try once more before the patrol came back around. He pulled slowly on the rope, and cursed when the hook caught on something. He pulled harder, but it wouldn’t give. He tugged on the rope, getting a feel for it. He pulled himself up and out of the boat, but the hook came free, spilling Dane back into the boat, and sending the dangerous hook flying toward them.
Dane grabbed Grace and covered her with his body. The hook flew by her and into the water. They both looked toward the ship. They stood still for another minute before Dane began reeling the hook back into the boat and reloading it.
The next soldier was a big S.O.B. Dane figured him as nearly 300 pounds, about 6 foot 6 inches. Biggest grunt he’d ever seen, cyborg or not. He wasn’t someone Dane cared to do hand to hand with. It was less than a minute before the giant walked his round.
Dane stood there thinking. Then he grabbed the lifejackets, and pushed the boat away from the ship. They floated away as the soldier came around the corner.
“Grace?” Dane waited, “How much do you weigh?” He aimed, and before Grace could answer, he shot the hook through the large man’s chest.
She listened to struggled breaths in the darkness of the small room. No matter how hard she tried, Lisa couldn’t calm her nervous energy. All of those who could left. A few older people, some ill, some injured, some unwilling, remained.
Charlie stayed behind, and Rosa. Their sacrifice weighed heavily on her mind. Second guessing herself wasn’t something she was used to. It fed the nervous energy, which fed the second guessing. Could she have gotten Amanda out? She ran fingers through her hair, tucked a piece behind her ear and looked at the sleeping child. Amanda pulled in a large gulp of air, as though there wasn’t enough in the room. No, Lisa thought, this was the only answer.
Footsteps outside her tent brought her around to see Charlie enter. A grim set to his mouth brought her to him.
“What is it?” Lisa asked.
“AIM soldiers,” Charlie’s expression told her everything before he spoke again. “They’re up top. They’re coming.”
“Close the tunnel doors.”
“It won’t buy much time.”
Lisa looked beyond the soldier, through the open flaps where Rosa was helping an elderly woman sit down to eat. She closed her eyes, and could hear her sister’s breathing.
“It’s okay Charlie,” she whispered, although it was no secret, “We don’t have much time.”
* * * *
Colonel Randal Travis walked into a mess. He’d gone out personally to see what had happened to one of their posts near the #3 fog maker. No one had checked in, so they sent a grunt out to scan. Grayson. He knew it had to be that arrogant bastard. The man had haunted him ever since Detroit. Now three foggers were down, and the mission was in jeopardy. Things weren’t going as smoothly as they had in Detroit. Then, walking in to a code three at the land center just topped it off.
“What the hell is going on here?” Travis asked Colonel Sams as he came out of the interrogation room.
“We got your report on the foggers,” he said, “Then, we found someone here on site.”
“Grayson?” Travis was hopeful.
“No. But whoever this guy is, he’s a professional. He took out some of the men before we got him,” Sams said. “We think he may be the one who took out the #1 fogger.”
“Then he’s one of Grayson’s. Where is he?”
“Interrogation,” Sams nodded to the room he’d just left.
“Good,” Travis said, the warmth of revenge caused him to smile. “I’ll be right in.”
* * * *
Dead eyes, still reflecting shock and pain, stared up at her. Grace’s arms ached from climbing, but the gloves Dane gave her had saved her hands from rope burns. She’d slipped several times before reaching the rail.
She took the rope ladder Dane had given her, and secured it as he instructed. She glanced at her watch. Two more minutes and the next patrol would arrive. She held the ladder as steady as she could while Dane climbed, carrying both of their packs. He climbed over the rail and handed her a pack.
“What do we do with him?” She asked.
Dane looked at the heavy man, and all the blood. “There’s no time to hide him. And I doubt we could pick him up.” He glanced to the corner of the ship where they expected to see the next soldier arrive.
Dane pulled out a hunting knife. Grace knew Robert had its mate. A gift, Dane had told her, from Stephanie to both men last Christmas. Dane motioned for her to hide. She crouched between a lifeboat and a crate, where she could see the soldier when he came.
Dane disappeared before she heard the oncoming footsteps. Steps that echoed in her mind caused sweat on her brow. A black boot hit the deck, and then he was there. A tall soldier, black as night, lean but muscular, stopped dead in his tracks. She watched his eyes take in the scene, make sense of it. But, before he could speak his warning into his headset, Dane was there. She didn’t see where he came from, he was just there. The movement was swift, steady, and deadly. The cut was made before the shock registered. Bleeding and silent, the soldier fell.
She swallowed hard. Dane’s expression, dark and full of violence, lacked humanity. He wiped the large knife off on the soldier’s clothing, and put it in a sheath at his side. She approached him, knowing she needn’t fear him, but unable to speak. The eyes that looked at her now, looked through her. Those eyes didn’t see a person. They saw a mission. For a moment she stood frozen looking at him.
He blinked, recognition showing in his eyes now. No apology, no regret. He nodded in the direction of the rail where they’d come from. He walked to where his pack sat, put it on, and held out his hand to her. Lover. Killer. Savior. She took it unflinchingly, and they headed toward the stairs. They were going inside. It was time. And timing was everything.
* * * *
Paul watched the land center come to life. More AIM soldiers were added around the parameter. He’d recognized the colonel that’d just gone in. Couldn’t recall the name. Sadistic. He remembered that much.
Paul moved out of the way of a scanning red light. He watched it crawl up the street behind him, and then it was gone as the AIM soldier turned the corner. Movement in the street forced him to move the dumpster, and get behind it. Two AIM soldiers carried the bodies of fallen cyborgs. Evidence removal.
The soldiers went by, and Paul moved out. A glance, down the darkened street, then back to the land center, and he was on the move. Not toward the building where Robert and Stephanie were being held, but back to the fog maker, and the dead bodies.
* * * *
Dane stopped as they reached the inside. He pulled something out of his packet, checked it, and looked to Grace.
“There’s electricity here,” he whispered. He brought a device up to show her. “A jammer.” He nodded to the video cameras at the end of the corridor. He threw a switch, the light turned green. “Let’s go,” he told her, “The jammer only works within 20 feet of us. If we’re lucky they’ll see the cameras come back on and think it’s a glitch.”
He took her hand and led her down the corridor, and into a small room. He shut the door, looked around the empty cabin, and put his pack up on the table.
“We might have five minutes,” he said, as he removed things from his pack.
He threw a gun, another knife, another military headset and a map on the tabletop. He spread the map open. Grace watched him as his eyes and fingers moved across the map, deciphering, determining. He nodded to himself and glanced to her.
“There doesn’t seem to be a lot of people on board right now,” he shoved the items back in his bad. “We just might make it out of here.”
“Should we call the others?” Grace asked. The time had come. Live. Die. Survive.
“We make our way to the room, then we call. We’ll have maybe another five minutes to shut it down before they can get to us.”
Grace nodded. Dane put his pack back on, opened the door, and Grace screamed as a gun was shoved in his face.